'Great way to start' - Raiders show promise in pre-season win
Raiders showed plenty of promise for their upcoming National Two East campaign as they scored seven tries against visiting Havant on Saturday.
Guernsey won the first of their two scheduled pre-season matches 43-19 on the club pitch at Footes Lane and director of rugby Jordan Reynolds was very satisfied with his group’s first hit out.
‘We got to see where we’re at and we saw improvements around our speed at the ruck and our cleaning, which was good,’ he said.
‘We are probably still adjusting slightly to the tackle height law. We have some good improvements on it, but we dropped off some tackles, which I think is just people adjusting their bodies for the lower height, bracing themselves for the contact and then any footwork can get them slightly out of position.
‘Other teams are going to be in the same boat as us, though. It’s not through lack of ability, it is just all a bit new with the change in the laws.’
Hugo Culverhouse got the ball rolling for Raiders, scoring the opening try of the afternoon, with Callum Roberts adding two more and Anthony Armstrong one in the first half.
Havant showed their quality to close the gap from 22-7 to 22-19 by the half-time interval, but Guernsey moved through the gears after the turnaround.
Niall McGann scored on his first appearance for the hosts and his older brother Ciaran also got on the scoresheet as did Liam Welch.
‘There were some really strong performances throughout the team,’ Reynolds said.
‘We started well and in the first 20 minutes we were up three or four tries.
‘We just fell off a bit in the middle 40, which was probably down to a few things. With the new tackle laws, momentum seems to swing more with the penalty count because more penalties are being given and you can lose momentum quickly. We also probably got caught up with trying to score too often and not being patient enough after such a good start.
‘But we stuck at it and in the last 20 minutes our fitness and ability shone through.’
He added that Havant, who are a level below Raiders in the RFU league ladder, provided the ideal opposition and will take away several positives themselves.
‘The last thing you want in pre-season is have everything go your way,’ he said.
‘With the wind being as strong as it was, both sides struggled with their line-outs, but we managed to push them around a bit at scrum time and we had good gain-line success.
‘Heading into this week [against Rotherham], we have got some things to work on, but this was a great way to start. One of the lads said in the huddle after the game, “we are probably a lot further ahead to where we were at this stage going into last season”.’
As for individual standouts, Reynolds name-checked two-try Roberts as well as Tom Teasdale and Dan Rice in the backline.
As for the forwards, he added: ‘I could name anyone from the pack – it’s definitely difficult to pick out just one or two.’
He was also encouraged by the younger McGann’s first performance in a Raiders shirt.
‘Niall got 40 minutes coming off the bench, he had a couple of good carries and he was quick to support Charlie Simmmonds on the break to get his try,’ Reynolds said.
‘There should be good competition in those positions, which is great for us as a squad.
‘We used about 24 players on the day and everyone seems to have come out of it OK, just some very sore bodies.’